For the second time this spring, a California statute designed to promote diversity in corporate boardrooms was blocked by a state judge. On May 13, 2022, in Crest v. Padilla I (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. 19STCV27561) (Crest), Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis ruled that California Corporations Code Section 301.3 (SB 826), which requires publicly listed corporations in California to have women on their boards, violates the Equal Protection Clause of California’s Constitution. California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber has since announced plans to appeal the decision, stating that “SB 826 was passed not to remove men from the boardroom, but simply to make room for highly qualified women who have been excluded from the corporate board selection process for decades.”

Continue Reading Another California Board Diversity Statute Struck Down in Court: Appeal to Be Filed

Prompted by the widespread adoption and use of video-conferencing software following the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have shifted toward video interviews to evaluate potential hires. Even as employers have begun to require in-office attendance, the widespread use of video interviewing has continued, because it is a convenient and efficient way to evaluate applicants. Some of the video interviewing tools used by employers incorporate the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in an effort to maximize the effectiveness of the interview process. Often, employers contract with third-party vendors to provide these AI-powered interviewing tools, as well as other tech-enhanced selection procedures.

Continue Reading What Principles of Explainability and Transparency Should an Employer Consider When Using Video Interviewing and Similar Automated Hiring Tools?

A California Superior Court judge has invalidated state legislation that required boards of publicly held corporations headquartered in California to include a minimum number of directors from underrepresented communities.  The court’s decision effectively strikes down Assembly Bill No. 979 (“AB 979”), a law enacted with the goal of increasing diversity on boards of directors, paving the way for a parallel outcome to a similar challenge of a statutory mandate for increased gender diversity on boards of directors.

Promotion of “Underrepresented Communities” Struck Down

Continue Reading Board Diversification by Legislative Mandate? One California Court Says No.

On January 27, 2022, the California Supreme Court, in Lawson v. PPG Architectural Finishes, Inc. (Cal., Jan. 27, 2022) __ P.3d __, 2022 WL 244731, clarified the evidentiary standard for presenting and evaluating retaliation claims under California Labor Code Section 1102.5 (“section 1102.5 whistleblower retaliation claim”).   Lawson involved a workplace retaliation claim brought by a sales representative selling paint products to home improvement stores in Southern California. The plaintiff claimed his employer terminated him because he complained about being instructed to alter the tint of certain paint colors to avoid having to repurchase less popular paints from the retailer later.

In 2003, California lawmakers enacted Labor Code Section 1102.6, setting forth a framework for whistleblower retaliation claims that varied from the burden-shifting test established by the United States Supreme Court in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green (1973) 411 U.S. 792 (“McDonnell Douglas”).  Despite section 1102.6’s enactment, some California courts continued to apply the McDonnell Douglas test to section 1102.5 whistleblower retaliation claims.

Continue Reading Burden Shifting: California Supreme Court Settles Confusion Over Section 1102.5 Claims

On January 26, 2022, the City and County of San Francisco released an updated Health Order No. C19-07y (the “Updated Health Order”), which addresses a number of rules issued in an effort to combat continued spread of COVID-19, including changes in exemptions to the universal indoor mask mandate.  Specifically, effective February 1, 2022, the Updated Health Order renews a previously-suspended masking exemption for vaccinated workplaces, with a few significant changes.

First, under the revised mask exemption, only employees who are “Up to Date” on vaccination (see below for definition) may go unmasked in the workplace, assuming the other conditions for the exemption are met.  Other individuals must wear masks at all times, subject to limited exceptions (e.g., alone, while eating).  Further, consistent with the Cal/OSHA definition of an outbreak, this exemption only applies if there have been no outbreaks (currently defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in an “exposed group” within a 14-day period) in the past 30 days.

Continue Reading Mask On, Mask Off? San Francisco Again Revises Its Rules for Universal Face Coverings

On December 13, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) announced new Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings (“CDPH Guidance”), implementing a mandatory mask mandate for individuals (employees and patrons) in all indoor public settings, irrespective of vaccination status, beginning on December 15, 2021 through at least January 15, 2022.  The CDPH Guidance requires that masks be worn by all individuals over the age of two, unless exempt for disability-related or medical condition-based reasons, and recommends the use of surgical masks or higher-level respirators.

FAQs issued by the CDPH specify that the CDPH Guidance applies to workplaces, and clarify that local public health regulations remain in effect for localities that have previously adopted face covering measures prior to issuance of the CDPH Guidance that apply regardless of vaccination status. That is, the CDPH Guidance only applies to local health jurisdictions that do not have existing indoor masking requirements.  Notably, the San Francisco Department of Public Health (“SFDPH”) has taken the position, in its updated Order and FAQs, that its own masking rules remain in place—including exemptions for “stable cohorts” with 100% vaccination rates, among other criteria.  Marin County and Contra Costa County have taken similar positions regarding the applicability of local health order mask exceptions.  It remains unclear whether local mask exceptions apply given the CDPH Guidance masking rules.

Continue Reading California Authorities Announce Changes to COVID-19-Related Requirements

On September 22, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a groundbreaking bill that affects warehouse distribution centers (“covered employers”) and their employees.

Effective January 1, 2022, AB 701, requires covered employers to provide nonexempt employees with a written description of each quota that the employee is subject to, including the number of

Counties across California are making a detour on the road to easing COVID-19 restrictions.

Los Angeles County  

On July 16, 2021, Los Angeles County issued an Order of the Health Officer (“the Order”) that requires all persons to wear face masks while in all indoor public settings, venues, gatherings, and businesses (i.e., office

It has been an active week in California with the release of new statewide face covering guidance, the alignment of Los Angeles County and San Francisco with this guidance, and the withdrawal of the revised Cal/OSHA Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (the “Board”).

Of most